Tech giant Microsoft Corp. is moving forward with ambitious plans to develop a massive corporate campus on a 90-acre parcel of land on the west side of Atlanta, Ga. over the next decade that will eventually employ thousands of workers.
The company has a facility in the West Midtown area of the city that recently opened but is looking to branch out even further. The new campus is the next step in a multi-year project that will provide new office space, public amenities and infrastructure.
The project at Quarry Yards, a former industrial area, will create wide opportunities and lasting benefits for the community. Twenty-five per cent of the property will be gifted to the community for projects like affordable housing, grocery stores, pharmacies and other amenities needed in the neighborhood.
A planning team of local professionals is partnering with Microsoft on the project.
Architecture firm Cooper Carry and consulting firm APD Urban Planning and Management are working with sustainability consultant Transsolar and market research consultants Noell Consulting Group. Community developers at the Integral Group will consult on projects for the neighborhood with JLL.
“We’re investing in Atlanta, we’re growing in Georgia and we’re doing so with, I think, a big vision and we hope a very long-term commitment,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in taped remarks announcing the expansion.
“This is a really exciting thing for us because it means it will be the site of a future Microsoft campus. It’ll be part of our home here in the Atlanta community. But we’re pursuing this in what we like to think, what we hope will be, a methodical and thoughtful way.”
Before construction begins, Microsoft will gather feedback from the community that will be used in the site design. The project planning team has been conducting community listening and visioning sessions since April and will be joining the meetings of local neighborhood associations to connect with residents and ensure the plan addresses business and community needs while still aligning with the local culture.
Microsoft wants to create a positive impact as an active partner in the Atlanta community and intends to work with local organizations and community groups to ensure Microsoft and the city thrive.
Three open town hall events will be held this year for residents to help ensure transparency and understanding around how feedback is being used to inform campus plans. The first town hall will be held in June. Microsoft is also setting up a community advisory council alongside its planning team. The group will be engaged at regular planning milestones along the way.
Smith said it’s important to talk to local residents and learn from the people in the Atlanta community before building the campus, which will also be built with sustainability top of mind.
“You’re going to see one of the world’s leading sustainable campuses grow up in the years ahead that will reduce our carbon footprint, recycle water and really run on the basis of zero waste, meaning we’ll recycle all of our waste as well,” said Smith.
“It’s an exciting moment for us.”
Michael Lawings, senior director of Americas real estate operations for Microsoft, said the priority is having a positive local impact, from the inclusive hiring of local vendors to jobs and affordable housing created for the region and much more.
“We are excited at the opportunity ahead of us and look forward to playing a larger role in empowering the local community and growing with the city of Atlanta.”
Politicians are understandably elated with news of the proposed campus.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in addition to construction jobs, the campus will create synergy with Atlanta University Center, which is the largest consortium of Black colleges and universities and is comprised of four member institutions.
“There will be opportunity for communities to live, work and play in this area that so many generations have called home,” Lance Bottoms said. “It really fulfills our vision of creating one Atlanta and gets us many, many steps closer to making that a reality.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the new campus will be a great addition to the company’s Atlanta Yards facility in the West Midtown area.
“We’re so excited. This is a great opportunity for the State of Georgia, obviously for the City of Atlanta. This is the exact kind of thing we’ve been working on in this state for a long time.”